22 Essential WordPress Plugins for Non-Profits in 2016 and Beyond

Posted on October 12, 2016 by in Resources | 24 comments

22 Essential WordPress Plugins for Non-Profits in 2016 and Beyond

It’s a sad reality that many fantastic non-profits are underfunded, understaffed, and lacking in technical know-how. After all, a heart of gold doesn’t come pre-packaged with vast resources and a degree in computer science.

As a result, the quality and effectiveness of many non-profit websites suffers. But they don’t have to. That’s why in today’s post we’ve compiled a list of essential WordPress plugins for non-profits. Each one solving technical problems that would otherwise prove difficult, if not impossible, for non-technical staff and volunteers to overcome.

22 Essential WordPress Plugins for Non-Profits

When considering which plugins to include I tried to focus on the primary needs of non-profits:

  • Basic (but high-quality) website optimization and security.
  • Community management (events, volunteers, etc.)
  • Community growth (email, social, etc.)
  • Fundraising via donations, membership fees, and basic eCommerce.

I also relied on specific criteria to determine which WordPress plugins were good enough to make the cut. This criteria included positive user ratings, a high level of support, recent updates (within the past 3-6 months), a low cost, and perhaps most noteworthy, easy setup.

Fundraising Plugins

Easily accepting tax deductible donations, processing member dues, or conducting online transactions that benefit the cause all go a long way toward making the financial burdens of non-profits lighter. This in turn allows the organization to spend less time pinching pennies and more time doing the good work they were founded to do. These plugins should help.

1. Give

Give Plugin

Tom Ewer covered the five “tip jar” WordPress plugins for non-profits last year, and one of the suggestions included was the Give plugin. While it may seem redundant since it allows for people to make donations with PayPal, Give is much more than just a payment processor. It’s a super robust tool that helps users track donations, set goals, and review stats, all in one place.

Features: 

  • Goal tracking
  • Zero commission charges
  • Own your data
  • Multi-tier donation level support.
  • Customization options
  • Reporting
  • Custom emails
  • API support

Price: FREE | More Information

2. Restrict Content Pro

restrict-content-pro

Restrict Content Pro is the premium upgrade to Restrict Content, which you can get for free in the official WordPress Plugin Repository. I’ve chosen to list the premium version for this essential plugins list because instead of simply restricting content you can charge for access. Turning this plugin into a great way to accept both one-time and recurring membership dues. For some non-profits this kind of revenue is their most dependable source of income.

Features: 

  • Restrict content by user roles
  • Manage members with the customer dashboard
  • Create and manage an unlimited number of subscription levels
  • Multiple payment gateways
  • Discount codes
  • Member emails
  • And a variety of add-ons

Price: $49 per year | More Information

3. Easy Digital Downloads

easy-digital-downloads

Easy Digital Downloads is a great way to sell digital products such as lectures, sermons, podcasts, ebooks, and more. At the affordable price of free, it can be quite the revenue generator for non-profits looking to raise funds.

Features: 

  • Shopping Cart
  • Customer Management
  • Discount Codes
  • Data Reporting
  • Add-ons

Price: FREE | More Information

4. WooCommerce

WooCommerce

If your non-profit clients are in the business of selling anything (tickets, products, memberships, etc.) or taking donations, they’re going to need a high performance e-commerce plugin to simplify the process. WooCommerce is the plugin to use if you need to create a digital storefront. There are also a number of free extensions available to beef up WooCommerce based on your client’s needs.

Features: 

  • Sell anything to anyone, anywhere in the world.
  • Credit card, PayPal, BAC, and cash on delivery support
  • Integrates with Storefront theme for total customization
  • Full extendable with numerous premium extensions.
  • Built on REST API
  • Robust support community

Price: FREE | More Information

Community Growth

Community Growth is key to the long term success of any non-profit. If you’re not growing, you’re likely withering. These plugins will help you better expand your reach, engage your visitors, and promote your cause.

5. Bloom

Elegant Themes Bloom Plugin

Bloom is an email opt-in form plugin for email list building. This plugin is designed to provide you with everything you need to convert your website visitors in loyal fans and followers.

Features: 

  • 100+ email opt-in form templates
  • 6 Different display types
  • Automatic Pop-up and Fly-in triggers
  • 16 email marketing integrations (and more coming)
  • Unlimited color options
  • Lots of other design settings
  • Statistics dashboard
  • Form split testing
  • And much more

Price: Free with Elegant Themes’ Membership | More Information

6. Monarch

Monarch

Monarch is a beautiful social follow and sharing plugin for WordPress. With Monarch it is not only easy to provide social options to your site visitors but with easy customization options, beautiful user interface design, and tracking options–you’ll be socially optimized and feel good doing it.

Features: 

  • Over 20 social networks to choose from
  • 5 different sharing buttons in 5 different locations
  • 6 automatic pop-up and fly-in triggers
  • Beautiful social following display options
  • Stats dashboard
  • And more

Price: Free with Elegant Themes’ Membership | More Information

7. Postmatic

postmatic-basic

Postmatic is a simple but brilliant plugin. It allows readers to opt-in to receiving an email notification of new comments on a post they comment on. Then, it allows them to reply to that comment, right from their inbox. It will super-charge your comment engagement.

Price: FREE | More Information

8. Ninja Forms

ninja-forms

Adding forms throughout a non-profit’s website can be the difference between a well organized and growing community, and a community that doesn’t feel like they have access to organizers. Ninja Forms is a powerful forms solution for WordPress. It’s also incredibly modular which means if you need paid add-ons, you only buy the added functionality you need.

Features: 

  • Intuitive drag and drop form builder
  • Simple but robust settings for complete form control
  • Easily extendible with add-ons

Price: FREE | More Information

Community Management

Once you have a website up and running with an active community using it, you’ll likely need some tools to help you manage that community. These plugins should help!

9. Ultimate Member

ultimate-member

If you’re a non-profit in need of a membership website, Ultimate Member may be the best free option out there. It’s powerful, flexible, and provides everyone with their own attractive user profile.

Features: 

  • Front-end user registration
  • Front-end user login
  • Front-end user profiles
  • Custom form fields
  • User account page
  • Searchable member directories
  • Custom user roles
  • And much more

Price: FREE | More Information

10. The Events Calendar

Events Calendar

Most non-profit organizations are heavily involved in fundraising and charity work. Because of this, it’s essential for their websites to include an events calendar. With this particular plugin, you and your clients can easily set up professional-looking calendars with all the details donors, attendees, and volunteers might need. This is also chock-full of customization, so Google apps (including maps and calendars), SEO, event search, and saved event information are all included.

Features: 

  • Easy setup
  • List and day views
  • Save venues and organizers
  • Widget
  • Event taxonomies
  • Export to Google Calendar and iCal
  • SEO support
  • Template tag support
  • Caching support

Price: FREE | More Information

11. Event Tickets

Event Tickets

This particular plugin is an add-on for The Events Calendar plugin, so if you’re going to set that one up you might as well get this one, too. This plugin gives site visitors the ability to RSVP to events. On the backend, this plugin is also super helpful for non-profits who want to get an advance head count and to be able to better manage the check-in process for registered attendees.

Features: 

  • RSVP support
  • Responsive
  • Major theme compatible
  • Translation ready
  • Comes with hook and filters for developers

Price: FREE | More Information

12. UkuuPeople

ukuupeople

UkuuPeople is a simple (and free!) contact relationship management tool (CRM) for WordPress. This is potentially huge for non-profits as traditional CRM’s can be extremely pricey. A free one that exists right in the backend of your website can help you manage your community, track and woo donors, and so much more.

Features:

  • Touchpoint tracking
  • Email list building
  • Meetings
  • Tasks
  • Due dates
  • Attachments
  • Dashboards
  • People search
  • Integrations via premium add-ons

Price: FREE | More Information

13. Wired Impact Volunteer Management

Volunteer Management

Non-profits don’t just rely on charitable donations to help fund their organization, they also rely on the work of volunteers. With this volunteer management plugin, your clients can advertise volunteer opportunities, control how many people sign up, track volunteer participation, and more.

Features: 

  • Easily post volunteer opportunities
  • On-site sign up forms
  • Confirmation email support
  • Limit sign ups
  • Reminder emails
  • Volunteer profiles and participation tracking

Price: FREE | More Information

14. Participants Database

Participants Database

The Participants Database plugin serves a slightly different purpose than the volunteer management one mentioned above. While this one can keep track of volunteers, it’s more likely that your non-profit client has other groups of people they need to track—voters, supporters, and other participants. This plugin help users collect information, process sign-ups, and receive notifications whenever records change.

Features: 

  • Customizable forms
  • Shortcode support
  • Signup form with multiple elements to choose from
  • Email notifications and confirmations
  • Searchable database
  • Import/export support

Price: FREE | More Information

15. User Role Editor

user-role-editor

User Role Editor is a simple but extremely useful plugin that allows you to create user roles for each account on your WordPress website and then adjust their access by role. This is great for keeping sensitive information or controls out of the hands of mere blog contributors or subscribers.

Price: FREE with premium option | More Information

Website Optimization

Every website needs optimization. Thankfully the WordPress Community has created lots of tools and services to help anyone at any skill level solve these tricky problems. These tools should help you and your non-profit staff cover the bare essentials of WordPress website optimization. Ensuring that you don’t simply have a website, but a fast and secure website.

16. JetPack

Jetpack

JetPack is one of my favorite WordPress plugins for non-profits and other small business owners because it’s easy to use and all settings are kept in one place on the dashboard. Not to mention, it’s made by Automattic, so you know it was built to provide solutions that WordPress users need.

Features: 

  • Traffic and other site statistics
  • Spam protection
  • Malware scanning
  • Easy management of plugin updates
  • Publicize for built-in social promotions
  • Site map creation
  • Spam blockers from Akismet
  • And more

Price: FREE | More Information

17. UpdraftPlus Backup

UpdraftPlus

It’s always a risk leaving a website in the hands of an untrained WordPress user, especially one that’s super concerned with budgetary restraints. Make sure you equip all of your non-profit clients’ websites with a backup solution, even if their hosting provider provides one. Since UpdraftPlus will back up to a lot of different storage providers, I’d suggest you start there.

Features: 

  • Supports backups to UpdraftPlus Vault, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Rackspace, Google Drive, and more
  • Automatic backups,
  • Site duplicator/migrator
  • Quick restore
  • Remote control of backups
  • Select which files to backup
  • Split large sites into multiple archives
  • Debug mode

Price: FREE & premium version for $70-$145 | More Information

18. Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security

Security is especially important for a non-profit organization that deals in donations and the exchange of other sensitive personal information online. The Wordfence Security plugin will give your clients additional security (on top of whatever their host provides) not only within the website, but at the login page as well.

Features: 

  • Firewall
  • Threat defense feed
  • Block malicious networks and known attackers
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Enforce strong passwords for all users
  • Security scans
  • Monitor traffic in real-time
  • Multi-site support
  • Includes Falcon Engine caching
  • IPv6 compatible

Price: FREE & premium version for $8.25/month | More Information

19. SSL Insecure Content Fixer

SSL Insecure Content Fixer

Before you go uploading this plugin to your client’s website, you should also ensure that they have purchased an SSL certificate and are running their website on HTTPS. This is especially relevant for any website that accepts payments or personal information from visitors. Once they have one in place, you can add this plugin to make sure no insecurity warnings are thrown due to mixed content issues.

Features: 

  • Easy setup
  • Basic fixes performed automatically.
  • Multisite support
  • Multiple language support

Price: FREE | More Information

20. WP Rocket

wp-rocket

WP Rocket has exploded onto the WordPress caching scene, becoming one of the top choices across both free and premium options. While there are free options available, some of the very best have gone five and six months without updates and had at least one serious security vulnerability recently. So for those reasons and the fact that WP Rocket itself is so good, it’s the option I’m recommending.

Key Features:

  • Page caching
  • Cache preloading
  • Images on request
  • Static files compression
  • Developer friendly

Price: starts at $39 per year | More Information

21. WP Smush

WP Smush

The Jetpack plugin will help a bit in terms of optimizing images and the W3 Total Cache will help with optimizing everything else, but sometimes site imagery needs a little more reduction than that. Because of that, I’d suggest you start your non-profit clients out with the WP Smush plugin. If you want to try something else, you’ll probably want to take a look at our recent review of other image optimization plugins.

Features: 

  • Lossless compression
  • Set max width and height
  • Supports JPEG, GIF, and PNG files
  • Auto “smush” attachments when they’re uploaded
  • “Smush” images up to 50 at once.

Price: FREE & premium version included in WPMU DEV membership | More Information

22. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

While word-of-mouth and community events can help spread the word about non-profit organizations, a solid search engine optimization plan is important for driving traffic to a cause online. Your non-profit clients may not have time to implement a full SEO strategy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get a little help from this plugin. We’ve even created an easy to follow set-up guide.

Features:

  • Page analysis
  • Meta and link elements
  • XML sitemaps
  • RSS optimization
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Multisite support
  • Import/export
  • Social integration

Price: FREE | More Information

Wrapping Up

It’s not easy to run a non-profit or a great website. But with the right tools in place a great website can go a long way towards making all your hard work pay off in the form of more funds and an expanded/more engaged community.

What kind of functionality does your non-profit need from WordPress?

Article thumbnail image by  venimo / Shutterstock.com

24 Comments

  1. Great list! Must try the Event Ticket plugin for my client’s website.
    Thanks

  2. Awesome list of plugins, I’m going to create a non-profit website and this is just perfect

    Thanks!!

  3. Great lists!!

  4. Great collection, not JUST for nonprofits. One minor correction… WordFence just sent notification to users this notification:

    Falcon Engine is scheduled to be removed in an upcoming release. Please investigate other caching options and then visit the cache settings page to manually disable the Falcon cache. It will be disabled automatically when support is removed.

  5. I use Participant’s Database and LOVE IT! It was fully customization for our unique needs,and the support is top notch.

  6. Firstly, thanks for including Give, we really appreciate it. But as a blogger on my own site, I love Postmatic. I feel like I get way more comments and they are building up a community of people. That is an excellent way for a nonprofit to easily build community right on their web property. We forget how many people prefer to reply to an email than to comment on a site and jump through a lot of hoops or even join a private social group. Thanks for supporting the efforts of those who serve the nonprofit community.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Thanks for stopping by the blog Bridget! Yes, I agree. Postmatic is an excellent tool 🙂

  7. Thanks for the valuable information. Would it be reasonable to assume, hopefully, that since these are listed by you that they are all 100 percent fully compatible with your various themes?

    • Nathan B. Weller

      That is not always the case. Since plugin compatibility issues can come and go with new releases of everyone’s products. However, I do believe all of these plugins can be used with both Divi and Extra. I’ve used most of them on non-profit sites I’ve created with our themes.

  8. Nice list. Thank you.

  9. Great list indeed, it’s also great to see lots of value within the recommended list, ideal for community building

  10. Great list. Wasn’t decided about a good membership plugin.

  11. Great list, will try some of these plugins, thanks!

  12. Thank you for that Brenda. I do build sites for non-profits so will be referring back to your useful post next time.

    Isn’t it interesting on the differences between plugins which people use.

    I totally agree about Yoast and Jetpack

    I use Backup Buddy for backups, CompressPNG/JPG for image compression, iThemes Security for security and WP Fastest Cache for caching I will however keep the use of these under review.

    Others I routinely use are Tiny MCE Advanced and Black Studio MCE

    Thank you for putting this post together

    • Hi Martin,

      I tried Backup Buddy but found out that is has restriction in back-up size. A long running NGO can deliver tons of interesting posts and articles over the years.
      UpdraftPlus made it easyier to back-up.

      Stefan

  13. Thank you Brenda, very useful for a “work alone” freelancer who builds and maintains a couple of no-profit websites (built with DIVI of course). Keeping up-to-date is very time consuming!

  14. This is a great list of tools. I use 4-5 of these on almost every nonprofit website I build.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Did we miss any of your go-to’s or even useful one-off plugins for non-profit websites?

  15. Amazing list! I’m really interested in the Easy Digitial Downloads one. I use DPD for my small guides and mini-courses which runs $10 a month so this might be another option. Thanks

    Ed
    The guy that makes technology stupid easy™!

  16. Hi Brenda,

    Congratulation for post,

    I have a question,

    I have installed my certificate SSL in my site wordpress, but the certificate SSL don’t work to all page.

    is there a plugin for active/force SSL all content ?

    any suggestion for me?

    thanks!

  17. Good subject but…. Events Calendar didn’t work with Div 2.X. So are you sure Events Calendar works with Divi 3????

    I spent days trying to make work with 2.X and found others struggling with the same problems. Ironically I switched to Timely’s “All-in-One Event Calendar — WordPress Plugins” and it worked like dream but I’m having some issues with it in Divi 3—mostly can’t switch between “”All-in-One’s” themes any more. Used to be able to.Also unable to install Timely’s free add-on extensions.

    Pls answer. I have several other blog Qs that no one at ET has ever answered as well as unanswered Tech Support Qs. Thanks!

  18. Thanks for the enlightenment. Something you could include on further editions of Monarch is the option for a visits/views counter, would be great and it would have everything on the same pack. Thank you and all the best.

  19. Thank you for this rich article. I’m definately going to change up the clunky Paypal donation part with Give and also the Volunteer plugin!!
    I am the board president of an all volunteer non-profit and also donate my time managing their website when I can squeeze it into my day. We depend entirely upon donations, so every nickel counts. Can you recommend a clean plugin to display donor names under levels of giving and also display names in categories such as when someone donates In Memory of and In Honor of?
    Volunteerism is a labor of love, so thank you again for including it in ET blogs. I love you folks!

  20. Hello,
    Thank you for sharing this awesome collection of Essential WordPress Plugins for Non Profits
    Yoast SEO is one of my favorite plugin. It helps you to optimize your meta tags without entering into coding. I use this plugin in my website.
    Keep updating!!!

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